The Cost of Windows

Today, The Linux Extremist, posted his attempts to compute what we in the Linux world call “The Microsoft Tax”, this is the extra cost of a computer with Windows as opposed to a computer without an operating system. His numbers are not all that surprising with an extra cost of 323.67 British pounds for Windows, Office, and Paint Shop Pro. In my eyes, the true purpose of his article was not so much to document the extra cost of Windows, but rather highlight that the Windows user must pay 323.67 in order to gain the functionality that us Linux users take for granted.

For example, most Windows users are used to buying a computer from the store and having it come with Windows, AOL trial software, and some other crippleware. To get Office costs Windows users an extra $120 or more. Try doing real artwork with MS Paint. By contrast, we in the Linux world get Linux for free (although one can pay $50 or more for a boxed version with a support contract – nothing wrong with that) along with a free office suite – We also get The GIMP, a program functionally somewhere between Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop. We also have other software such as K3B which is equivalent to Roxio or Nero CD/DVD burning software. We don’t have to first pay for the OS and then pay extra just to make it USEFUL! For more examples, check out the book I wrote about migrating away from Windows (available for free) at

TLE also makes the same point I often try to make – that poorer countries benefit the most from Linux which allows them to catch up in the “digital divide” without having to pay the MS tax.


2 responses to “The Cost of Windows”

  1. That’s one I found through you! Linux Extremist…though I rather think of myself as being that title. Congratulations on your new book! I expect you’ve already investigated the freelance market for photos, as I have for drawn graphics. The photos are more in demand, I think…

  2. Sounds like your reference is comparing apples and oranges. You don’t need to compare price of running an Open Source operating system with Open Source to price of running a completely proprietary operating system with all proprietary/closed software. Want you need to compare is running Open Source versus proprietary operating systems with Open Source software. All the Open Source software named as running on Linux runs perfectly well on Windows as well. You can even run X based applications on Windows. The question is does it cost more time as well as money-wise to learn, install and customize Linux or does it cost more to learn, install and customize Windows. Also add into the cost, how much time is needed to update both systems when a major fix or new release comes out. Do you need to reinstall all software? Do you have access to fast Internet to do so? Poorer countries may not, especially not everyone in countries with fast Internet access run wifi. Some still run dial-up. Do you need to rebuild favorite applications or custom software to make it work with your release? I think if you look at it from the viewpoint of running the same kinds of software (Open Source), you’ll find it’s a much more interesting comparison and a much closer race.